I canned 26 quarts of applesauce last week. That should last us a year, provided we use one quart every two weeks. I felt so pioneer-ish, let me tell you. My husband is the real hero of this story, though, because he kept the girls occupied and happy AND he cleaned the rest of the house--all after getting up at 4:45 a.m. and working 8 hours!
I used about 1-1/2 bushels of apples.
Quarter and core.
Boil in batches until soft, about 15-20 minutes. If you boil too little, you get a gritty texture to your applesauce. If you boil too long, your apples start completely falling apart.
Run through a strainer to separate the pulp from the seeds and skin. I saved all the discards and ran them through the strainer again at the end. That produced an extra 2 quarts of applesauce.
Ben got a kick out of me standing on the chair, but this counter was the only suitable edge for the strainer, so a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.
Wash your canning jars, lids, and rings. I sterilized the jars and rings by running them through the dishwasher. The lids I set in a small saucepan with an inch or two of water. I let them sit on the stove's back burner just below a simmer.
To kill off any bacteria or other such nasties, bring the applesauce to a boil briefly in the microwave or on the stovetop and add sugar and/or cinnamon if you like. To a couple of batches, I added a cup of applesauce to a quart of frozen strawberries, ran them through the blender, and added it back into the applesauce for a homemade version of strawberry applesauce.
Ladle the hot applesauce into hot jars, leaving about 1/2" of headspace for expansion. Wipe clean the rim of the jar with a damp rag before adding hot lid and ring.
Place filled cans into the already-boiling water bath (those wire baskets are a necessity!) The jars should be completely submerged. Boil for twenty minutes. Remove and let sit until cooled. Check that lids are sealed.
I made apple pie filling with the other 1/2 bushel. I was wondering if anyone else out there had other ideas for apples. I have never tried apple butter, so I'd love a tried-and-true recipe if you have one!